We are greatly looking forward to introducing you to Kylie, operator of one of our favorite blogs on the interwebs, “How we Montessori”. We first came across her site completely by happenstance. We can't remember exactly what we were searching for, or hoping to discover, but we suddenly found ourselves immersed in a treasure trove of rich and meaningful content, written from the perspective of a Montessori parent in Australia. Since then, we return frequently, with the same sense of original delight. Now, we're so very excited to share her story with you.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
I live in Brisbane, Australia with my husband and two sons. Caspar is seven and Otis is three. My professional background is in Environmental Health which led me to work in Local Government for many years before having children. I grew up in a rural area and although I love the city I also long for wide open spaces. I dream of good friends, good food and a healthy family. I currently blog at How we Montessori and I am a small business owner.
Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What's your favorite colour?
Yellow. It's bright, sunny, warm and optimistic.
Q: Do you have a favorite book? How about a film?
I'm addicted to news and politics which besides Montessori covers most of my reading material.
Q: Can you tell us about your hobbies?
I think more about hobbies than I actually do. Most of my free time is spent researching. I love cooking and I would love to develop more of my professional skills. I would love to try pottery.
Q: Switching to Montessori, did you have a “Montessori Moment”?
I have had many Montessori moments. One that was most special happened at Canberra Montessori School. My son Caspar had already been attending for a couple of years. One afternoon I went to pick him up early for an appointment. The door to the classroom was open and no one knew I was there. I stood out of sight watching the children for few minutes. The sun was streaming in through the large windows, the Directress was with some children washing the class pet, other children were busy working. I had tears in my eyes, the scene was so, so serene and simply beautiful. It was like wow - this is how it is supposed to be! That moment confirmed that I wanted my children in a Montessori school.
I've had many very moving moments observing my own children and their personal achievements. Moments where I can see their sense of achievement on their face, 'yes I did it'. From Otis using his weaning glass to standing and walking - all of these have been Montessori moments for me.
Q: How did you start, “How we Montessori”?
I started blogging as a way to reach out to other parents. I was reading a lot of home Montessori blogs but found them unsatisfying. They didn't give me enough practical information. I wanted to share the details of Montessori in the home, the exact what, where and when. Even today many blogs and Montessori/educational websites touch the surface but very few go deep enough or are honest enough for me.
I also had difficulty getting advice or information from people in my own community. When I was pregnant with Otis I reached out to my local Montessori community. Although there were many experienced Montessori teachers and parents - I couldn't find anyone who had used a floor bed or a Montessori mobile. There were very few Australian resources to help me parent the way I wanted to, the Montessori way from birth. I personally thought this was outrageous and decided to go on a wholehearted education campaign about infant Montessori. Through the blog I would share step by step, day by day what we were doing. Very soon I formed many close friendships and lots of connections with other parents. I ended up receiving more help than I was giving! Now I have progressed even further with my own store where I stock many of those materials that previously were so hard to find.
Q: It’s such a wonderful resource, and it really presents the importance of a Montessori way of life. Is this how you envisioned it from the start?
I really didn't start with a vision. I started writing from the heart. I wanted to be honest and informative. I wanted to be as true to Montessori as possible and to be an advocate. I'm not great at communicating especially the depths of Montessori in our home - but I give it a shot and hope that readers can sense our commitment to the philosophy and why it's so important.
Q: Can you share this sense of a life’s journey? What we mean is, some of your readers may have been following along for years…
Very rarely do I stop and look back on our journey. We end up where we are supposed to be. It's wonderful that many relationships formed through the blog have been enduring. I think that time also builds trust. We have walked the walk for many years and it's there for everyone to see. I also love the familiarity that blogging brings. I love hearing from readers who I have known for years and have become good friends. I love that on the blog you can read about Montessori from birth through to primary age. There are a lot moments and experiences within those blog posts.
Q: We also love your shop. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your products, and what the process has been like to get it going?
The process has been very difficult and very consuming from the start. I wish I had completed a business degree first! I have made so many business related mistakes but I am learning all the time.
I am inspired by Michael Olaf and the work of Susan Stephenson. I am also inspired by the many makers, the crafters who make Montessori materials. I wanted a way to bring these makers together and have the materials accessible to Australian families. In Australia there are many toy shops and Montessori school supply places but there wasn't a place where you could buy Montessori materials for infants and toddlers for the home. Previously in Australia you couldn't get Montessori toddler aprons, Interlocking Discs or Gobbi Mobiles. The process of connecting with these makers, parents and Montessori teachers has been a really special part of my life.
The inspiration behind our products is simple. We stock the materials we love and use in our own home. If we haven't used it I don't stock it. Items like the Topponcino are an exception. I couldn't find one when Otis was born but would have used one if I could. It's never really about the materials. It is about what the child can do, it's what they can achieve with the materials that is important!
Q: What’s your favorite education related quote?
It has to be 'follow the child'. I remind myself of this every day. It's not about the parent, what you want the child to do or to experience. It is not about what you want them to learn. It is about meeting the developmental needs of the individual child at that exact moment.
Q: What do you think is the best introduction to Montessori?
Visit a Montessori school, ask around, connect with other parents. Sign up for a toddler class. The internet isn't always a good place for genuine Montessori information. Parents need to have access to real life experiences. Find someone in your community who is Montessori trained and connect. I honestly believe you have to see Montessori in action (in homes or schools) to really understand it's significance.
Q: And lastly, with that in mind, what advice can you give to people who are interested in Montessori, but who aren’t quite sure where to start?
Don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Take it step by step. Make small changes. Observe your child and see if the changes are working, if they are continue. If the changes are not working reassess. Montessori puts the child first, life is not a race. I suggest starting by creating a calm and organised home environment, immerse the child in nature and most of all respect the child.